Part of the Second Age of Middle-earth Exploratory Series
There are some big name-pairings in Middle-earth that every fan of The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings will know: Galadriel and Celeborn, Frodo and Sam, Aragorn and Arwen, Merry and Pippin, Gimli and Legolas, Boromir and Faramir … the list could go on and on.
Many casual fans may not be aware that Elrond himself has a very famous pairing in the form of a brother: Elros. But before we get into Elrond and Elros, let us remind ourselves of their lineage. They had a very famous father: Eärendil. What made Eärendil so important can briefly be seen in our earlier entry in this series which concerns itself with the dawn of the Second Age. When the Eldar and the Edain (Elves and Men, respectively) had had enough of Morgoth’s tyranny, they sought aid from the ‘gods’ themselves, the Valar. The trouble is, the Valar lived “way over there” in Valinor in the ‘Uttermost West’. Not only was it rather far away, but not just anyone could rock up in Valinor and seek an audience with the King of the Valar.
Part of the problem stems back to the First Age. Without going into to too much detail, at that time many of the Elves lived in Valinor among the Valar. But there was a big problem concerning three great, glowing jewels (the Silmarils). As a result of the strife concerning these jewels, there was a revolution and many of the High Elves departed Valinor to return to Middle-earth. They did some awful, murderous stuff along the way, and were subsequently banned from returning to Valinor as a result. Beyond that, Men were not permitted to enter Valinor because of their mortality. Essentially, they would not be able to endure the bliss and would waste away in the most blissful way imaginable. So neither Elves nor Men could seek aid from the Valar directly.
Despite these problems, many Elves did try to sail to Valinor over the years to seek aid from the Valar, but none arrived at their destination.
“But Jerry,” I hear you ask, “What’s all this got to do with Eärendil or even Elros for that matter, which is what this post is supposed to be about?” Patience, my Tookish friend. See, Eärendil was neither fully Elvish nor fully Human. His father was Tuor, a very great Man and mortal. But his mother was Idril, who was the daughter of the King of Gondolin. Yes, that Gondolin, the great, hidden Elven city, which is itself mentioned in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
What Eärendil did that was so special is he managed to go to Valinor bearing one of the Silmarils. The Silmaril, along with his unique heritage, allowed Eärendil to gain access to Valinor and to successfully seek aid on behalf of both Elves and Men. Thus began the War of Wrath, in which Morgoth was ultimately overthrown. Eärendil himself was afterward placed aboard his ship and set to sail the heavens with the Silmaril upon his brow, as a shining star.
The sons of Eärendil were Elros and Elrond, the Peredhil or Half-elven. In them alone the line of the heroic chieftains of the Edain [the Men who fought alongside the Valar in the War of Wrath] in the First Age was preserved; and after the fall of Gil-galad the lineage of the High-elven Kings was also in Middle-earth only represented by their descendants.
At the end of the First Age the Valar gave to the Half-elven an irrevocable choice to which kindred they would belong. Elrond chose to be of Elven-kind, and became a master of wisdom. To him therefore was granted the same grace as to those of the High Elves that still lingered in Middle-earth: that when weary at last of the mortal lands they could take ship from the Grey Havens and pass into the Uttermost West; and this grace continued after the change of the world. But to the children of Elrond a choice was also appointed: to pass with him from the circles of the world; or if they remained to become mortal and die in Middle-earth. For Elrond, therefore, all chances of the War of the Ring were fraught with sorrow.
Elros chose to be of Man-kind and remain with the Edain; but a great life-span was granted to him many times that of lesser men.
Elros was the first King of Númenor, and was afterwords known by the High-elven name Tar-Minyatur. His descendants were long-lived but mortal.
So it was that Elros became the first King of Númenor, where he ruled peacefully for more than 400 years, when he died in SA442. It was from Erlos that all future Kings of Men ultimately descended, including fan-favourite, Aragorn Elessar. Also, so it is that we have Elrond, the half-elven. And finally, so it is that his daughter, Arwen, has the ability to choose whether to become Mortal or not at the end of The Return of the King. Presumably, her brothers also had this choice. But it is never seen on-page.
Fun sidebar: in The Hobbit, Elrond is presented with the swords that Gandalf and Thorin are wearing, which they found in the troll’s treasure. Gandalf’s is identified as Glamdring, the Foe-hammer, that the King of Gonolin once wore. Gandalf was carrying the sword of Elrond’s own grandfather. As Gandalf himself might say, a strange chance, if chance it was. Also, Also, the phial that Galadriel gives to Frodo is said to contain the light of Eärendil, brightest of stars. You now know whence came that light.
Find the entirety of our Second Age Exploratory Series here.
- The Return of the King 
- The Silmarillion 
- The Hobbit,